Mortal Kombat II (commonly abbreviated as MKII) is a competitive fighting game originally produced by Midway Games for the arcades in 1993. It was later ported to multiple home systems, including the PC, Amiga, Game Boy, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and various PlayStation consoles.
Mortal Kombat II was the second game in the Mortal Kombat series, improving the gameplay and expanding the mythos of the original Mortal Kombat, notably introducing more varied Fatality finishing moves and several iconic characters, such as Kitana, Kung Lao, Mileena and the series' recurring villain Shao Kahn. The game's plot continues from the first game, featuring the next Mortal Kombat tournament set in the otherdimensional realm of Outworld, with the Outworld and Earthrealm representatives fighting each other on their way to the evil emperor Shao Kahn.
The game was an unprecedented commercial success and was acclaimed by most critics, receiving many annual awards and having been featured in various top lists in the years and decades to come, but also perpetuating a major video game controversy due to the continuously over-the-top violent content of the series. Its legacy includes spawning a spin-off game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and having the greatest influence on the 2011 reboot game Mortal Kombat, as well as inspiring numerous video game clones.
The gameplay system of Mortal Kombat II is an improved version of that from the original Mortal Kombat. There are several changes in standard moves: a crouching punch and turnaround kick were added, low and high kicks had greater differentiation (be they crouching or standing up), the roundhouse kick was made more powerful (knocking an opponent across the screen, like the game's uppercut), and it is easier to perform a combo due to reduced recovery times for attacks. Returning characters also gained new special moves, including some to be used in mid-air, and the game plays almost twice as fast as the original. However, all characters in the game still share generic attributes (such as speed, power and jump height) and all normal moves are also the same between each character.
As with its predecessor, matches are divided into rounds, and the first player to win two rounds by fully depleting their opponent's life bar is the winner; at this point the losing character will become dazed and the winner is given the opportunity of using a finishing move. Mortal Kombat II lacks the "Test Your Might" bonus games and point system from the first game, in favor of a consecutive win tally where wins are represented by icons.
Following his failure to defeat Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat tournament, the evil Shang Tsung begs his master Shao Kahn, supreme ruler of Outworld and the surrounding kingdoms, to spare his life. He tells Shao Kahn that if they hold it in Outworld the invitation for the next Mortal Kombat cannot be turned down, and the Earthrealm warriors must attend. Kahn agrees to this plan and also restores Shang Tsung's youth. He then extends the invitation to the thunder god and Earthrealm's protector, Raiden, who gathers his warriors and takes them into Outworld. The new tournament is much more dangerous, as Shao Kahn has the home field advantage, and an Outworld victory will allow him to subdue Earthrealm.
According to the Mortal Kombat series' canon, Liu Kang won this tournament as well, defeating Shao Kahn and his bodyguard Kintaro. The game's story mode can be also finished using any other playable character, resulting in different non-canonical endings for each of them.
Since 1994, multiple official ports and emulated versions of Mortal Kombat II were released for a wide variety of home systems, including the 8-bit (Game Boy, Master System and Sega Game Gear), 16-bit (Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and Sega Genesis) and 32-bit (Sega 32X, PlayStation and Sega Saturn) consoles, Amiga and PC DOS computers, and the PlayStation Network (PSN).
The initial critical reception of Mortal Kombat II was overwhelmingly positive, with Sega Visions describing the way in which the sequel was directed as "sheer brilliance," and Nintendo Power calling it "the hottest fighter ever". Tony Brusgul of The Daily Gazette opined the "incredible" hype surrounding the game was "well deserved," calling it "a perfect blend of great graphics, action and violence".
Regarding the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version, Mark Patterson of Computer + Video Games (C+VG) wrote that "Probe has done an incredible job with this conversion. Everything is here, and I mean everything." Sushi-X of Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) called it "a great translation considering its limitations," although a reviewer for The Detroit News felt "very disappointed" with this port and recommended the SNES version instead. A reviewer for The Baltimore Sun called the SNES version "the best game I've ever played - a true translation," while Patterson noted it was the bloodiest game Nintendo has yet allowed to be released. About the 32X version, IGN's Levi Buchanan stated that "if you do not have a SNES, this is the home version of MKII to get."